State Representative Dwayne Alons passed away last night after a battle with kidney cancer, Iowa House Republicans announced today. First elected to the state legislature in 1998, Alons represented a staunchly Republican northwest Iowa district for eight terms and was unopposed in this year’s election.
A longtime farmer and retired brigadier general with the Iowa Air National Guard, Alons chaired the Iowa House Veterans Affairs Committee during the 2013 and 2014 legislative sessions. This year the state legislature passed and Governor Terry Branstad signed into law several bills designed to benefit veterans and encourage them to settle in Iowa.
Among many conservatives in the Iowa House Republican caucus, Alons stood out for his steadfast belief in prioritizing social issues such as opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights. In June 2010, he entered unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Bob Vander Plaats’ name in nomination for lieutenant governor, saying he was “speaking for a grassroots effort that has been going on since the beginning of Bob’s campaign.” Alons was one of five Iowa House Republicans to file articles of impeachment in 2011 against Iowa Supreme Court justices who concurred in the Varnum v Brien ruling on marriage. He repeatedly co-sponsored and tried to pass “personhood” bills that would ban abortion in all circumstances. Earlier this month, Vander Plaats’ organization The FAMiLY Leader gave Alons its first annual “Family Champion Award,” saying in its official statement, “When it comes to championing pro-family values in Iowa, nobody has stood stronger, longer, and with such grace as Dwayne.”
Since Alons was just elected to another term, a special election will be needed to choose a new representative in Iowa House district 4, covering most of Sioux County (a detailed map is at the end of this post). Governor Branstad will likely set a date for that election in the coming week, and the election will probably happen sometime in January. The only real competition will be at the GOP nominating convention, since the area Alons represented is the most heavily Republican of the 100 state House districts, with nearly ten times as many registered Republicans as Democrats.
After the jump I’ve posted a selection of tributes from Alons’ colleagues. I will continue to update as needed.
From a statement released by Iowa House leaders:
“We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rep. Alons,” said Iowa House Speaker Kraig Paulsen. “From the outside people knew Dwyane as a passionate, dedicated lawmaker. But his colleagues knew him to be a dedicated father, grandfather, husband and man of faith. Dwayne showed us how to live every part of life by faith and service. His wife, Clarice, has become part of our Legislative family and we are wishing her comfort during this time.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Rep. Alons’ family and friends,” added House Majority Leader Linda Upmeyer. “Dwayne has been a shining example of looking for opportunities and developing solutions. Over the years, he spent his time going town to town throughout his district, listening to the concerns of his constituents. He embodied what it means to be a citizen legislator. His legacy will be one of faith, family and hope.”
From Governor Terry Branstad’s official statement:
“As a retired Brigadier General in the Iowa National Guard and a member of the Iowa Legislature since 1998, Iowa lost a true statesman with the passing of Representative Dwayne Alons,” said Branstad. “I offer my deepest condolences to Dwayne’s wife, Clarice, children, family and friends.”
“As a former state legislator who also grew up in rural Iowa, I admired Representative Alons’ commitment to service and passion for working for rural Iowa,” said Reynolds. “You would be hard-pressed to find a better advocate for Iowa families, agriculture and rural economic development than Dwayne Alons in the Iowa Legislature. My thoughts and prayers are with the Alons family during this difficult time.”
Alons represented House District 4, which is in Sioux County. House District 4 includes the cities of Sioux Center, Orange City, Rock Valley, Hull, Hawarden, Alton, Maurice, Granville Ireton and Chatsworth.
Sometimes legislators can work the way we are supposed to work. Republican Rep. Dwayne Alons of Hull, in far northwest Iowa, was 180 degrees opposite of me in his thinking on many issues, including the reality of climate disruption, and our votes often canceled out each other. But we were able to work together on issues we agree on and care about. Although I wasn’t on his committee, as chair of the Veterans Affairs Rep. Alons helped me put some language into one of his bills that will be helpful to veterans. It is now the law of the land. From the day we first spoke at a Village Inn restaurant in Des Moines, Rep. Alons was always approachable, very much a gentleman. I received word today that Rep. Alons passed away. This is sad news. Iowans should take a few days to be thankful for the public service of elected officials like Dwayne Alons. Godspeed, Rep. Alons.
UPDATE: The Iowa GOP issued these statements:
(DES MOINES) – Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann and Co-Chair Cody Hoefert released the following statements after learning of the passing of Rep. Dwayne Alons:
“I served 8 years in the Iowa House of Representatives with Dwayne Alons. He was a stalwart conservative…steadfast and dedicated to his country, state, and district. He was a General in the Air National Guard and a patriot in every sense of the word. Dedicated to his family and especially his wife, Clarice, who served with him every step of the way, Dwayne Alons was the citizen legislator I was proud to call friend.” — Chairman Jeff Kaufmann
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Rep. Alons. Clarice has lost her life partner, his kids lost a great dad and Iowans have lost a steadfast public servant. He has been a solid public servant from his time in the military to his time serving in the Iowa House. I am proud to have called him a mentor and friend. He will be missed by many.” — Co-Chair Cody Hoefert